“Tranny chasing” vs being attracted to non-cis people
As someone who's not only transgenderqueer, but also often in the role of ‘community educator’ on tgd topics, an issue i'm regularly asked about is attraction to non-cis people. A number of people feel that they're attracted to trans / genderqueer people, but are concerned that they're non-consensually objectifying us.
Wikipedia has a discussion of some of the terminology and issues involved:
A variety of casual terms have developed to refer to people who are attracted to transgender people. These terms include trans-attracted, trans-oriented, transfan, trans admirer, and _trans catcher_. The terms transromantic, transamorous and transsensual have also emerged, but have not seen much usage.
The terms tranny chaser (sometimes shortened to chaser) and tranny hawk have been used, although tranny is considered a slur by many. The term chaser is predominantly used to describe men sexually interested in trans women, but it is sometimes used to refer to those interested in trans men as well. Transgender people themselves often use the term in a pejorative sense, because they consider chasers to value them for their trans status alone, rather than being attracted to them as a person.
The terms skoliosexual and ceterosexual have been used to describe attraction to non-binary people.
In my own case, i certainly use the phrase ‘tranny chaser’ pejoratively, for the reason described. i have strong negative feelings about people treating me as nothing more than a vehicle to fulfil their sexual fantasy irrespective of my own needs / wants / desires. Even more so when it feels like it's grounded in attitudes that i find problematic. One example is the notion that i have an obligation to present in a certain way:
- i've had the experience of having a couple being upset with me for being ‘misleading’ when i apparently didn't present in the ultrafemme way they wanted.
- i regularly get people apparently assuming that being femme means i'm submissive, which is not only very wrong, but also very sexist.
Another example is someone's behaviours seeming to be suggest that they're primarily concerned with wanting to demonstrate how Transgressive or Subversive they are. This is something experienced by people in any group that's marginalised: they can come to be regarded as (often ‘exotic’) objects via which others can try to ‘prove’ their ‘transgressiveness’ or ‘subversiveness’. This does not Spark Joy in me. i'm happy for people to be attracted to me because i don't fit binaries; it's quite another thing for people to treat me instrumentally, as a mere tool to try to increase their social capital with others.
But when someone is attracted to me because of my gender identity and gender presentation, and they're interested in me for other reasons as well, and they take an active interest in exploring what i might and might not be into? That can be fucking hot. Being desired in that way can be very affirming and arousing. It can create the feeling of ‘gender euphoria’ instead of ‘gender dysphoria‘[a].
My experience has been that the sort of people who worry about whether they're being problematic are also often people i feel aren't engaging in tranny-chasing behaviour; but at the same time, those who are engaged in tranny-chasing behaviour rarely seem to worry about how their actions might be impacting other people. And my further experience is that this division has a strong gender-related aspect to it: those in the first category are usually afab, those in the second category usually amab. Which is hardly surprising: people socialised as girls and women are typically also socialised to think of others (often before themselves), whereas people socialised as boys and men are typically also socialised to expect to be catered to (and that aggression is a legitimate response to not being catered to).
i certainly don't speak for all tgd people. (Although i very much try not to erase or invalidate any tgd person's experiences.) But as long as people respect that i'm a fellow human being with no direct obligation to meet their desires, i don't want to discourage people from being attracted to me as a transgenderqueer, or from expressing that attraction.☙
[a] Not ‘gender dysmorphia’. ‘Gender dysphoria’ and ‘body dysmorphia’ are two distinct things, although of course they can often be connected:
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), occasionally still called dysmorphia, is a mental disorder characterized by the obsessive idea that some aspect of one's own body part or appearance is severely flawed and therefore warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix it.